2020-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-09-18 10:52:50 UTC
2020-09-18 23:40:12 UTC --martyb
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Due to geopolitical tensions, Huawei cannot rely on Google Android operating system over the long term, and in May 2019 we reported HongMeng OS may become Huawei's OS alternative to Android. HongMeng (鸿蒙) OS will finally be called HarmonyOS outside of China, and we recently reported Huawei was trying to attract more developers with monetary incentives to brings more apps to HMS (Huawei Mobile Services).
We now have a more clear timeline with the company's recent release of HarmonyOS 2.0 beta that's currently available for smart home applications, smartwatches, and head-on-displays, and will become available for smartphones in December 2020.
Researchers have developed a system that improves machine vision through obscuring clouds and fog.
Referred to as 'confocal diffuse tomography',
[t]he newly developed system works via an algorithm that measures the movement of individual light particles or photons, as fired in fast pulses from a laser, and uses them to reconstruct objects that are obscured or hidden from the human eye.
What makes the technique extra special is the way that it can reconstruct light that's been scattered and bounced around by the barrier in the way.
In experiments, the laser sight was able to see objects hidden behind a 1-inch layer of foam.
Existing techniques for machine viewing in similar scenarios have major drawbacks. Some only work at microscopic scales, some require access to both sides of the diffusing medium, and others require prior knowledge of the object being viewed. The most comparable method relies on excluding scattered photons by time-gating of ballistic (non-scattered) photons and using them to construct images, however this approach degrades rapidly for greater propagation distances and more highly scattering media as ballistic photons drop towards zero.
Confocal diffuse tomography is different in that it reconstructs images from the scattered photons "modeling and inverting the scattering of photons that travel through a thick diffuser." It has a variety of potential applications including self driving vehicles whose LiDAR struggles in rain and fog, robotic vision, and viewing planetary surfaces through cloud cover.
The researchers caution that the approach is currently slow and requires significant optimization, but they are "excited to push [the approach] further."
David B. Lindell, Gordon Wetzstein. Three-dimensional imaging through scattering media based on confocal diffuse tomography [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18346-3)
Holmes and Theranos' former president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani were charged in June 2018 with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
[...] According to the court document filed this week[*], Holmes—who is now being tried separately from Balwani—notified the court last December that she plans to submit "expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition" that has bearing on the issue of guilt. The expert providing such evidence was named in the document as psychologist Mindy Mechanic, of California State University, Fullerton.
According to Mechanic's faculty website, she focuses on "psychosocial consequences of violence, trauma, and victimization with an emphasis on violence against women and other forms of interpersonal violence." The site also notes that Mechanic "frequently provides expert testimony in complex legal cases involving interpersonal violence."
[...] In response to Holmes' plans to provide mental health evidence, federal prosecutors requested that they should also be able to examine Holmes' mental state and provide their own psychiatric evidence in court as a fair rebuttal.
[...] The judge in the case, US District Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California, agreed with the prosecutors. As such, he ordered Holmes to undergo up to 14 hours of psychological testing and psychiatric evaluation by two government-appointed doctors over the course of two consecutive days. Davila also ordered that the government's evaluation of Holmes be recorded on video—over Holmes' objections.
[*] Here is a link to the court document.
(2019-07-01) Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes to Face Trial Next Year on Fraud Charges
(2018-09-06) Theranos to Dissolve in a Pool of Blood
(2018-06-17) Elizabeth Holmes Steps Down as Theranos CEO as DoJ Levels Charges
(2018-03-15) Blood Unicorn Fairy Tale: Theranos Founder Charged With Fraud
(2017-12-24) Theranos Given Indirect Lifeline From Softbank
(2016-10-06) Theranos Lays Off 340, Closes Labs and "Wellness Centers"
(2016-08-03) Theranos Introduces New Product to Distract from Scandal
(2014-10-05) LinkedIn's Top 10 Silicon Valley Startups for 'Talent Brand'
As developer of one of the leading BitTorrent libraries, Libtorrent, Arvid Norberg has been closely involved in the protocol's development. It's his code that makes a wide variety of torrent clients function properly. This includes uTorrent Web, Deluge, and qBittorrent.
[...] This week, Norberg announced the latest release of Libtorrent; version 2.0. This new version comes with many changes that eventually will make their way to torrent clients. The most crucial one is the implementation of the BitTorrent v2 protocol specification.
BitTorrent v2 is an improved version of the early BitTorrent standards and includes several technical changes.
[...] Tech-savvy readers can get the complete lowdown from the Libtorrent site but for the sake of simplicity, we will focus on how the changes will affect users.
[...] BitTorrent v2 changes the way torrents are 'compiled' and the newer version is not backward compatible.
[...] There is an option to create so-called "hybrid" torrents that can connect to both swarms.
[...] For now, it makes sense that publishers, including torrent sites, are best off using hybrid torrents.
[...] Finally, we should mention that it's not just the .torrent files that will change. The v2 and hybrid magnet links are different too.
Just how soon the v2 torrents will work depends on when clients update to the latest Libtorrent version. That can take days, but also more than a year. When large publishers and torrent sites will embrace the changes is uncertain as well, but eventually, it's the way forward for all.
AT&T CEO John Stankey this week published an opinion piece in Politico with the apparent goals of improving AT&T's reputation, reducing government regulation, and getting more federal funding. The piece is titled, "A Game Plan to—Finally—Connect Every American to Broadband," and the first item on AT&T's game plan is "to identify where broadband is unavailable with geographic precision."
[...] Why doesn't the United States already have broadband maps with this level of precision? Partly because AT&T and other ISPs have repeatedly fought the Federal Communications Commission's attempts to require submission of more accurate maps.
AT&T may have recognized that its fight against more accurate broadband maps is largely over, with Stankey's Politico essay noting Congress' passage of the Broadband DATA Act—and urging Congress to hurry up in appropriating funding. But even with the Broadband DATA Act mentioned by Stankey, AT&T is still pushing for limits on how the FCC implements the data-collection system mandated by Congress.
[...] The FCC, which is still finalizing its plan, has good reason to ask for more data to verify carrier submissions. In April, AT&T admitted a mistake in which it falsely reported offering broadband in nearly 3,600 census blocks spread across parts of 20 states. Separately, the FCC found in December that Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular exaggerated their 4G coverage in official filings. These types of mistakes can prevent the FCC from targeting funding to the areas where it's most needed, and inaccurate data in general can result in ISPs giving potential customers false information about service availability.
[...] AT&T's targeting of the most profitable areas has left millions of homes in its 21-state service area without adequate broadband access. AT&T doesn't want to bring fiber to all those homes that still have copper phone lines, and Stankey thus urged Congress to appropriate broadband funding that would allow fixed wireless access instead of fiber in unserved rural areas.
[...] Consumer advocates agree that government should promote broadband deployment, but they propose something more ambitious than AT&T's call for more funding and less regulation. Noting that big ISPs "fail to deliver universal access but enjoy comfortable monopolies and charge you prices at 200 percent to 300 percent above competitive rates," Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon recently wrote in support of a nationwide fiber plan proposed by Democrats:
Even when it is profitable to deliver fiber, the national ISPs have chosen not to do it in exchange for short-term profits. A massive infrastructure program, the kind that helped countries like South Korea become global leaders in broadband, aren't just desperately needed in the United States, it is a requirement. No other country on planet Earth has made progress in delivering universal fiber without an infrastructure policy of this type.
Back in the early 1930s, it was recognized that though many cities had electricity, the vast majority of rural homes were not. The Rural Electrification Act (REA) was enacted to address this shortcoming...
Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn was a major proponent of the REA, which he helped pass in 1936 as Chairman of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. He proudly stated in 1959 that ninety percent of farm homes in the U.S. were electrified, compared to three percent in the early 1930s.
How fast and how expensive is your internet connection?
The locus of male sexual desire has been uncovered in specific regions of brain tissue where a key gene named aromatase is present, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study in mice.
[...] "This is the first key finding to explain how testosterone stimulates sexual desire," said senior author Dr. Serdar Bulun, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine. "For the first time, we demonstrated conclusively that the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain is critical to maintain full sexual activity or desire in males. Aromatase drives that."
When Northwestern scientists knocked out aromatase selectively in the brain, sexual activity in male mice decreased by 50%, despite their having higher levels of blood testosterone levels (compared with control male mice).
If a normal male mouse is put with a female one, Bulun said, "it would chase after her and try to have sex with her. If you knock out the aromatase gene in the brain, their sexual activity is significantly reduced. There is less frequency of mating. The male mice are not that interested."
The finding can contribute to new treatments for disorders of sexual desire, the scientists said.
The study, published Sept. 7, 2020, in PNAS, focuses on one task — language — and finds that to understand language (more specifically, processing spoken sentences), children use both hemispheres. This finding fits with previous and ongoing research led by Georgetown neurology professor Elissa L. Newport, PhD, a former postdoctoral fellow Olumide Olulade, MD, PhD, and neurology assistant professor Anna Greenwald, PhD.
[...] Their study solves a mystery that has puzzled clinicians and neuroscientists for a long time, says Newport.
In almost all adults, sentence processing is possible only in the left hemisphere, according to both brain scanning research and clinical findings of language loss in patients who suffered a left hemisphere stroke.
But in very young children, damage to either hemisphere is unlikely to result in language deficits; language can be recovered in many patients even if the left hemisphere is severely damaged. These facts suggest that language is distributed to both hemispheres early in life, Newport says. However, traditional scanning had not revealed the details of these phenomena until now. "It was unclear whether strong left dominance for language is present at birth or appears gradually during development," explains Newport.
Now, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analyzed in a more complex way, the researchers have shown that the adult lateralization pattern is not established in young children and that both hemispheres participate in language during early development.
Brain networks that localize specific tasks to one or the other hemisphere start during childhood but are not complete until a child is about 10 or 11, she says. "We now have a better platform upon which to understand brain injury and recovery."
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would eliminate qualified immunity for police officers in the commonwealth in a narrow vote on Tuesday, setting up Virginia to become the first state in the union in which police officers could be sued for a wide variety of conduct standard to legal law enforcement work.
The bill passed when it was voted upon for the second time, after a provision that would've held police departments accountable for behavior of off-duty police officers was stripped from the legislation.
Chesterfield, Virginia Police Chief Jeffrey Katz criticized the legislation, stating that it would lead to a climate in which Virginia police officers decline to respond to public emergencies, criminal acts and threats to public safety out of fears that they'll face years of costly litigation, potentially from criminals who have demonstrably committed crimes.
[...] "What you're going to have is officers making the decision, that I better wait," he explained in an interview on Wednesday. "When you start to look at legislation of this nature... you have to make that calculated decision whether it's worth it to come to work everyday and subjecting yourself not only the possibility of physical injury, but years and years of litigation."
[...] The legislation will lower the burdens for potential lawsuits against law enforcement officers in Virginia, and will allow them to be filed in any court in the state.
The bill would still need to pass the Virginia Senate. It would then go to the Governor who may, or may not, sign it into law.
UC visiting assistant professor of biology Michael Booth studied the migration patterns of steelhead, a subpopulation of rainbow trout that migrates to the Pacific Ocean, where the growing fish hunt and feed until they return to their natal freshwater streams to spawn.
While working at the United Water Conservation District, Booth used 19 years of records from a designated fish trap on southern California's Santa Clara River to identify potential environmental drivers that spur some fish to make the arduous trip to the Pacific Ocean. The trap is part of a diversion off the river where fish can be counted and, if necessary, relocated downstream past the river's low or dry spots.
He found that steelhead migration was triggered by the lengthening daylight of spring rather than factors like recent rains, which had little correlation to migration.
[...] Booth said there are big genetic benefits to making the dangerous trip to the Pacific Ocean. Steelhead grow much faster in the food-rich ocean than trout that remain in the freshwater streams. Fish that migrate to the ocean have an advantage in passing on their genes to subsequent generations when they return to spawn, he said.
"A 3-year-old resident trout might be a foot long, but a steelhead might be 3 feet long," he said. "Their fecundity is directly related to size. So the bigger the fish, the more eggs it can make. There's a really strong genetic advantage to making more babies."
[...] "There are a lot of challenges in the Santa Clara River. The water levels go up and down," he said. "This river has a massive sediment load. During a big storm, the river bed can erode 20 feet. The water looks like a smoothie coming downstream."
[...] "We thought the fish would migrate when the river was flowing and wouldn't migrate in years without storm events," Booth said. "It turned out that wasn't the case. They migrated regardless of whether the river was flowing to the ocean."
Michael T. Booth. AFS Publications, North American Journal of Fisheries Management (DOI: 10.1002/nafm.10475)
To give us all a breather from the sometimes obnoxious reality, I hasten to enlighten the community with the all-important news that the new Dune Movie trailer was released a couple days ago. Somebody also made a shot-by-shot comparison to the 1984 David Lynch's adaptation.
I seem to be ambivalent, prefer the books, anyway.
So, do you like it, hate it, socially distance it? Don't give a wooden nickel?
Why can't we use the same techniques [that we use for banking] to secure online votes?
[...] voting has some unique requirements that make secure online voting a particularly challenging problem.
Votes are anonymous, banking isn't
Every electronic transaction in the conventional banking system is tied to a specific sender and recipient who can confirm that a transaction is valid or raise the alarm if it isn't. Banks count on customers to periodically review their transactions—either online or in paper statements—and notify the bank if fraudulent transactions occur.
[...] Some online voting companies have dealt with this challenge by dispensing with strong ballot secrecy. Voatz, for example, gives each voter an anonymized identification number that allows them to look up their votes as they were recorded on the Voatz server. This is probably essential for ensuring that votes are recorded correctly. But it erodes the sanctity of the private ballot, since people in positions of power could coerce voters into revealing how they voted.
Online banking isn't actually that secure
The more important issue, however, is that online banking systems aren't actually that secure. Indeed, conventional payment networks get compromised constantly. The Nilson Report, a financial industry trade publication, estimated that credit card fraud cost the world almost $28 billion in 2018.
[...] Voting officials can't issue voters after-the-fact credits for their stolen votes the way banks do for stolen funds. An election needs to produce a definitive result that is quickly and widely accepted as legitimate. Even a small number of fraudulent votes could flip the results of an election and destroy public confidence in the voting process. Major elections, including the American presidency, have been decided by a few hundred votes out of millions cast.
So our voting infrastructure needs to be a lot more secure than our online banking infrastructure.
They're back—attacks that use booby-trapped Web ads to install malware on the computers of unsuspecting visitors.
[...] But over the past month, malvertising has made something of a comeback, security firm Malwarebytes reported this week. Company researchers said they recently found two different groups placing booby-trapped ads on xHamster, a site with more than 1 billion monthly visits, according to SimilarWeb. The ads redirect visitors to sites that serve malicious code. When viewed with Internet Explorer or Adobe Flash, the code can exploit critical vulnerabilities in unpatched versions of Internet Explorer.
"Threat actors still leveraging exploit kits to deliver malware is one thing, but end users browsing with Internet Explorer is another," Malwarebytes researchers wrote. "Despite recommendations from Microsoft and security professionals, we can only witness that there are still a number of users (consumer and enterprise) worldwide that have yet to migrate to a modern and fully supported browser."
Internet Explorer has always been one of the more targeted browsers. In part, that was because of its once dominant market share. Subpar security protections, when compared to Chrome and later Firefox, was another key reason. Microsoft has since released Edge and encouraged all users to adopt it. But the software maker continues to offer IE since custom plugins and software often lock organizations and individuals into using the outdated browser.
The malvertising renaissance seems to be motivated by attackers "squeezing the last bit of juice from vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Flash Player (due to retire for good next year)," the Malwarebytes post observed.
Ireland's Data Protection commissioner has ordered Facebook not to send any more personal data from Europe to the US. The regulator has the authority to fine Facebook up to 4% of its global turnover, should non-compliance be an issue.
The order, described to Independent.ie by people close to the situation as "well progressed", is the result of a European Court decision in July, which struck down the transatlantic 'Privacy Shield' treaty.
It means that the validity of 'standard contractual clauses' (SCCs) used by thousands of Irish and European companies to transfer data, is now closer to being cancelled.
However, the process is only about half over. The order is only preliminary, so far, and Facebook is doing what it can to appeal or subvert the ruling. The NYOB post links to three letters which provide background on the matter between Data Protection Commission and Facebook.
(2020) CJEU Issues Judgment on Schrems II Case
(2018) Privacy Expert Schrems Files GDPR Complaints Against Google, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp
(2018) ICANN's Pre-Emptive Attack on the GDPR Thrown out by German Court
(2018) Facebook is Trying to Block Schrems II Privacy Referral to EU Top Court
(2015) EU Top Court Rules Safe Harbour Treaty Invalid
[Ed Note - Not our usual fare but and interesting an fun read for the weekend. ]
From https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/it-was-never-enough/ comes the story of an international arms dealer. Excellent weekend reading for anyone that wants to lead a more exciting life!
T. R.'s confidence helped him build a lucrative career at a very early age. According to T. R., it began like this: At sixteen, he worked at a kiosk in the local mall, selling cellphone accessories, but around two years later, when the kiosk's parent company went under, his boss told him that as his last payment he could have all the remaining inventory, signs, and displays from two kiosks—the value of which he estimates at $80,000. He sold that inventory and some additional merchandise and invested the proceeds in setting up more kiosks. By his nineteenth birthday, he said, he had $4.5 million, all of which he invested in a kiosk company he called Wright Marketing Group, spread over forty locations. He eventually broadened sales to novelties and games—"all kinds of stupid gifts, with a two-thousand-percent markup."
The venture escalated on a kiosk-buying trip to the Shenzhen International Toy and Education Fair, in China, where, T. R. claimed, he came up with an idea for a console for pirated video games called Power Player that would plug into a TV and allow users to play classics like Space Invaders and Galaga. He decided to focus on selling Power Player wholesale. It was a huge hit, T. R. said, until the FBI began arresting the biggest Power Player retail operators. Panicking, he abandoned his business and left the United States with $8,000 to travel in Europe.
The story builds from there, with all the juicy details -- cars, planes, yachts, girls (no mention of drugs or rock'n'roll) and plenty of adventures.
Me? I'm just happy reading these stories, the quiet life is fine!
A groundbreaking survey of over 10 million star systems has failed to detect signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Astronomers working with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in Western Australia were unable to detect alien technosignatures while surveying millions of star systems in the Vela constellation, according to new research published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. The authors of the new study, Chenoa Tremblay from CSIRO and Steven Tingay from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), were hunting for low radio frequencies similar to those produced by our own civilization.
[...] The new search, which included over 10 million stars, was "orders of magnitude" higher than previous MWA surveys, as the authors wrote. From the 30 hours of observation, 17 were "free from imaging artifacts likely caused due to the instrument being actively worked on during the day, while the observations were taken at night."
The null result is not entirely surprising, as the volume of space surveyed by the astronomers is still exceptionally small. In the press release, Tingay said it "was the equivalent of trying to find something in the Earth's oceans but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool."